Overview of Introduction to Computer Science Coursework Marking

Overview of Introduction to Computer Science Coursework Marking


  1. 400 word (maximum) executive summary of the report you have been allocated (25/100 marks).


Marking criteria:

  • Justification of high-level project aims
  • Description of low-level objectives
  • Clear specification of the scope of the project
  • Discussion of the added value
  • Quality of writing


Responses to part one that scored highly typically:

  • justified the high-level project aims by clearly identifying a gap in the research literature, an unmet need, or a limitation of previous systems/work
  • clearly described SMART objectives and distinguished them from deliverables/milestones
  • specified the focus of the project, both in terms of what was covered and what wasn’t (and why)
  • discussed added value in terms of how the work contributed to objectives, and how the project went beyond what was already available, for example in terms of what it offered users
  • were well structured and easy to read


A lot of marks were lost in part one by describing what was done in the project, but not offering enough justification for the choices that were made.


Many students could have done better by more carefully distinguishing project aims, objectives, requirements, scope, methodology, tasks, deliverables, milestones and added value (and students are advised to research these terms online if they don’t fully understand them as this will be very useful for your summer project outline). A particularly common mistake was to misidentify objectives with tasks and/or deliverables (and you need to be on your guard as the author of the report you are reviewing may well have made this mistake themselves!) It is better if objectives explicitly relate to the true contribution or added value of the project (as it benefits end users). Tasks and deliverables are really just particular ways to realise that added value. For example, simply “researching” a topic or “building” a prototype are not good objectives (as they don’t say how that task and that deliverable might actually be of any benefit to a user). Understanding this distinction will allow you to reflect more deeply about the project’s added value and its contribution to users and/or the field. Although Oliver tried very hard to highlight this point at almost every single Q&A session (to the extent that he had to apologise several times for trying to make this point so often!) it seems one last example may still be required to help get this fully across. So, for example, if you are reviewing the project on the flat-sharing app, then it would not be a good start to say something like “The aim of this project is to design a flat sharing app. The proposed app has two main functions….” – which is essentially exactly what many of you did! It would be much better to say something like “The aim of this project is to deploy a mobile app that improves the quality of life of flat-sharers by exerting a positive influence on household dynamics by promoting fair and timely engagement a range of typical household chores”. Ideally you would: (1) mention some academic literature showing how many people flat share, what problems they experience, and how these problems negatively affect their life; (2) explain why an app is a good way to effect the desired changes; and (3) mention some existing apps in order to argue that each one only covers a limited range of household chores and/or assumes a traditional family structure which limits its applicability. Note that, while the author of this project did include a lot of the right information in the introduction, the actual description of the project objectives was poor. Meaningful SMART objectives can easily be derived from aim suggested above, which would then lead into a meaningful discussion about essential and desirable requirements and how to evaluate whether the aim and objectives are satisfied by the delivered app. Although it may take quite a bit of persistence and revisiting to identify and articulate the true added value of a project, doing so will usually help improve every other aspect of your project report.


  1. 400 word (maximum) summary of strengths, weaknesses and possible extensions to your project (25/100 marks).


Marking criteria:

  • Evidence of critical thinking
  • Well supported discussion of strengths and weaknesses of project
  • Specification of potential project extensions
  • Quality of writing


Responses to part 2 that scored well:

  • Outlined both obvious strengths and limitations of the report
  • Demonstrated a deeper engagement with the report by outlining more subtle strengths and limitations
  • Described some well thought through potential project extensions, both to build on strengths and to address limitations
  • Justifications for extensions were often framed in terms of existing literature or state of the art
  • Were well structured and easy to read


Students tended to do better at highlighting strengths and limitations than suggesting project extensions and sometimes the justifications needed to demonstrate critical thinking were lacking. Marks were also lost for poor quality writing, particularly in structuring the response. Overall students tended to score highest on this part of the report than others.


  1. 400 word (maximum) high-level summary of the broad field and context in which this project has been carried out (25/100 marks).


Marking criteria:

  • Coverage and selection of appropriate literature
  • Evidence of critical thought
  • Structured presentation
  • Quality of writing


Responses to part 3 that scored well typically:

  • Found a balance between covering related work in breadth or depth
  • Didn’t just describe related work, but took a more critical approach in highlighting strengths, limitations, and gaps
  • Grouped prior work in a meaningful structure
  • Had well-structured text that was easy to read


Students tended to do pretty well in describing related work. Some marks were lost for responses that were lacking either evidence of critical thinking or that were poorly structured (e.g., very detailed descriptions of one or two papers)


  1. 400 word (maximum) discussion of ethical issues associated with this project or domain, and potential impact of the work (25/100 marks).


Marking criteria

  • Breadth and/or depth of the content covered
  • Ability to apply learning from the unit
  • Ability to go beyond the material presented in the unit to demonstrate engagement with contemporary debates
  • Use of evidence to support discussion
  • Quality of writing


Responses to part 4 that scored well typically:

  • Found a good balance in covering ethics/impact in either breadth or depth. There were very high scoring examples that took both approaches
  • Understood and applied the ethical frameworks introduced in the unit in thinking about this project or domain
  • Brought in references to broader debates about technology impact/ethics from either popular media or academic literatures and linked it to the project they had chosen
  • Used concrete examples to ground discussion, such as applying writing about the use of animals in research in discussing the robotic ant nest project.
  • Were well structured and easy to read

A lot of marks were lost in this part of the report for responses that didn’t failed to demonstrate any engagement with the ethics material introduced in the unit, although these were sometimes balanced with really interesting material that went beyond what had been taught.